Q1. Why are bees important? A1. Bees pollinate 95% of the plants that provide us with food. Einstein suggested that the human race would die out within four years of bees becoming extinct.
Q2. How robust is the bee population? A2. Bee numbers are in decline. The reason for this is the stress we cause them through: - the use of agricultural and garden pesticides especially those with nicotinoids which adversely affect bees navigation systems - some commercial bee farming practices such as moving bees time and again over large distances to pollinate crops in different places - the spread of disease such as European Foul Brood - the spread of deadly pests such as varroa mite and the Asian hornet
Q3. What can I do to help bees? A3. Here are a few simple things which if we all did them would make a significant difference: - Grow plants that attract bees and other pollinators - Do not use insecticides that include neonicotinoids - you can check the names of these products on the Internet - Ensure that jars that contained honey are washed and put into a sealed re-cycling container as bees will seek an 'easy meal' and much non- British honey carries diseases that will make our bees ill. - Buy local honey and support beekeeping and fruit and vegetable growing in our community.
Q4. How can I become a beekeeper? A4. Whilst beekeeping is fascinating and important for the environment it comes with challenges: - Do you have access to a space to keep hives where bees will not annoy your neighbours e.g. an allotment? - Can you make time each week from April to October to inspect your colonies to safeguard their wellbeing and prevent swarming? - Are you prepared to attend courses and read journals in order to learn about best practice in beekeeping? - Are you happy to invest in equipment, courses, books, membership of a bee society, bees and veterinary medicines with little likelihood of 'break-even'? - Are you allergic to bee stings, however careful you are there will be the odd one!
If you are prepared to work with these challenges then we would love to welcome you to the community of beekeepers. The best way to start is to attend a course run by your local Beekeeping Association - look on the Internet or contact the British Beekeepers Association for more information.